Hope everybody got well thru Labor Day weekend and had the chance to grill outdoors with family and friends. Honestly speaking, I drank more beer than wine this past weekend, but when you grill brats, ribs, et cetera that often comes natural.
Anyways, as I mentioned on Sunday, I will try giving you an easy overview as to how white wine is made.
We will not talk about what kind of grape clones to use, nor what kind of soil is important for which grape. We will simply grab the bull by its horns and talk about pick, press, barrel and most favorable, drink!
In North America and Europe, grapes are being picked
between the month of August, September and October. But before we can ever pick the grapes, lots of other things need to have gone right in the vineyards to ensure a great wine in the bottle. The weather plays a huge role and to keep it simple I won't get into that in detail but for starters, ideal weather conditions are as follows. A cool winter with good moisture, spring and summer with little moisture but sunny days and cool evenings with a breeze to keep the grapes dry. During grape harvest, completely dry weather is preferred to ease the wine making at the winery.
But let’s get back to the picking of the grapes. First you pick grapes for sparkling wine or Champagne making to ensure that the sugar levels (brix) maintain a lower level. Most white wine grapes are next in line at the winery. We either choose to pick traditionally by hand or do a mechanical wine harvesting. Both have their pros and cons, the hand harvest often results in a more precise selection and better protection of the grapes and grape juice. A mechanical harvest is more cost effective. Once at the winery, the goal is not to smash but rather gently split the grapes open to allow a better flow of the grape juice. Unless you are planning on producing a full bodied white wine, the skins and seeds are being separated right from the beginning.
After that, the white wine grapes undergo its fermentation in either large steel vats or oak barrels, depending on the style of wine. Samples are being tasted regularly and the wine is bottled when the winemaker is happy with its end result. Happy drinking!
Red wine production is a bit more complex as the contact with the skin plays a larger role, but more about that tomorrow!